Beer and Pavement

That thing I posted elsewhere on poor news coverage of a strange coincidence or something like that

Posted in Life by SM on May 31, 2012

I posted this over at the CoMo Collective. It’s something I’m somewhat proud of and feel this audience should read it and comment as well. It’s related to the kinds of things I support on this blog but I’m not 100% how. Any comments are welcomed. I’d love to continue this conversation with people who don’t necessarily live here and know any of the parties involved. Sorry for the non-beer post. Look for a Session piece on Friday (I hope.)

KOMU ran this story about connecting a rock show flyer to this past weekend’s Brookside Apartment complex fire near downtown. The rock show in question happened over three weeks ago at the Blue Note and featured local bands Enemy Airship and Believers plus Daryle Bascom’s Videology. The poster in-question was printed by our own Ben Chlapek, an accomplished poster maker here in town.

The disappointing part of the story is that KOMU reported that the poster was being considered in the Fire Marshal’s investigation, insinuating that Ben and the other artists involved in the show were somehow at fault for the fire. Sure, KOMU didn’t directly say that Ben et al. were responsible for the incident, but their irresponsible reporting is going a long way toward dragging the artists’ good names through the mud.

The damage was done in two ways. One problem lies in how KOMU reported the story in the first place, leaving the audience with very little context to see the full picture. The second issue arises when they post these kinds of stories on Facebook and allow the uninformed to run wild with hyperbole and sensationalism.

KOMU reported only part of the story, leaving assumptions to be drawn by their audience. There’s the implication that the drawing is of the Brookside Apartment complex. However, there is no identifier aside from the fact that the building on the poster LOOKS LIKE EVERY OTHER APARTMENT COMPLEX IN COMO. It says “Brookside” nowhere, nor does the image include street names “Walnut” and “College”, where the fire took place.

There is little attempt by KOMU to present Ben as anything more than an “artist” or band member. Keeping him faceless allows the audience to make all sorts of judgments on his character (depending on their views of artists). Obviously, I know Ben and have some idea as to how much he cares for this community. Aside from Ben’s released statement, KOMU did very little to paint an accurate picture of who Ben is. Doing so would have left them with virtually no story.

A little Googling would have revealed a pattern of flaming buildings in Ben’s work. Said work is not only engaging but making some noise in the poster art world. Still, flames are present in other examples of his prints. Check the two prints below. Should we also blame Ben for the end of the world in 2012 as well as the destruction of Inuit homes? The point is that there’s a pattern that suggests the show’s flyer had little-to-nothing to do with the apartment fire. He draws buildings on fire from time to time. It’s merely a coincidence that someone thought the poster portrayed Brookside.

Now, there’s the Facebook post. KOMU has made a concerted effort to engage their viewers through social media. While this sounds great to someone like me who values the community dialogue social media encourages, the combination of a lack of context and someone to monitor these discussions leads to a misinformed public jumping to conclusions, something a news organization is supposed to combat.

The above comments are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the discourse that often results in KOMU Facebook posts. Some of the most bigoted and vile statements I have ever seen in COMO happen on these threads. To be honest, these reactions are tamer than most KOMU stories. Still, people were quick to jump to the conclusion that Ben and the bands were somehow involved in the fire.

KOMU failed to present the full story as well as monitor their own discussion. I help run this blog as well as other blogs and several Facebook pages and groups. If someone posts something that stinks of libel and/or intolerance, I at least will call them out on it or even remove their comments. While I get that KOMU wants to allow their viewers the liberty of speaking their minds, this sort of “discourse” only spirals down a rabbit hole of ugliness.

The full story would have not only included Ben’s profile but a list of other avenues the fire marshal was investigating. There have been rumors of poor treatment toward laborers floating around the project. What about the many residents angered by the continued development of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods? How about the fact that it’s dry in Mid-Missouri this time of year and these sorts of things happen in new construction projects? Instead, the KOMU story only gives one possibility for the investigation. The audience is led to believe that this is the only angle officials are investigating. I find that hard to believe. Including these other possible causes would have not only provided more context but would have lessened the negative effect on the artists. Again, this would have led to a less-sensational story.

One thing KOMU did mention in their story was Ben’s official statement (emphasis mine):

As a resident of the downtown neighborhood, I am terribly saddened to hear about the fire at Brookside apartments. The poster I created is, in hindsight, an irony and coincidence which I cannot erase. Out of respect for the owners of the property and the future residents of the complex, I have taken the image off of the internet and will no longer display it in any form.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for KOMU. The station displays the image of the flyer in their original story and has posted it on Facebook (from where the above comments originated). I even have an image of the original flyer, yet have chosen not to display it here out respect for Ben’s wishes. Oh, and I’m sure you noticed the screen grab above on KOMU’s Facebook page. It seems Ben et al. should be singled-out for their artistic imagining of a building on fire, but KOMU can capitalize on the Brookside fire all they want.

What would be great is if KOMU actually covered the art and music scenes in a way that would have painted a much more balanced picture of Ben, Enemy Airship, Believers, and Videology. These components of our community are a vibrant part of what makes COMO great. I’ve mentioned and linked to Ben’s accomplishments, but what would the audience think if they knew about the label associated with Enemy Airship that often gives its music away online? Would there have been more familiarity with Believers had the news station already been reporting their debut release and all the buzz it’s creating around town and the rest of Missouri (and beyond)? Do they even know that Daryle Bascom has a long history in the music biz and that his Videology parties are among the most popular and unique of their kind? KOMU’s missing a large part of this story that would have surely painted a much more balanced picture of the situation instead of a sensationalized non-story.

That might be what’s most disappointing. KOMU is affiliated with our beloved MU Journalism School, home of the “Missouri Method.” Shouldn’t they have a higher standard to uphold?

In the end, this will all blow over. The fire marshal will quickly clear Ben and his mates of any wrong-doing. The investigation will focus on actual suspects and evidence, and the Brookside apartments will be ready a little later than expected. However, I wonder whether or not KOMU will update their story. Will they clear Ben’s name as well as everyone else involved with the show? It’s doubtful. That’s just not a story. It won’t bring in ratings. I’d love to be wrong, but I won’t keep my hopes up.

Indie-Craft Interview #9: Julie Hayes

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview, Uncategorized by SM on May 9, 2012

Julie Hayes bombed the shit out of this town.

What I mean is that she knit-bombed the shit out of this town. Once I learned of her shenanigans, I promptly made sure that my other blog featured her and her other crafty creations. Those creations (and finds) can be obtained for a reasonable fee at her Etsy shop – possibly world headquarters for indie-craft wares – where one can ascertain a pretty good feel for Julie’s aesthetic and a bit of her personality, making it clear why she’s so cool.

I feel lucky to know someone so cool. So I’m introducing her to the Coalition now… 

photo by Tony Irons

1. Describe your craft(s).
Well, I went to school for fine arts and ever since I graduated I have done nothing conceptual. I do what’s called “low” art in the art world. And I am an avid dabbler. I knit, sew, embroider, make jewelry, build things from reclaimed wood, you name it! I find that if it has a function, I’m drawn to making it. I think that was my biggest problem with “fine” art, it had no function to me.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie? 
I have worked with lots of people on lots of projects, but I could never imagine working with someone who I did not know. Being independent allows you to keep control of what you’re making and how you’re making it. I couldn’t imagine someone from the public trying to tell me what to make.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
In the most basic sense, it makes me a better person. For a long time after I graduated I wanted to make things to sell to people. I think that mind set is changing for me. I think I’m starting to savor making things for myself again; holding back a little what I’ve been giving all those years. It makes me happy to be able to produce a piece that I’m proud of and that makes me a better person. I have done public art pieces in Columbia and I’m happy with the response that I’ve gotten to them. I hope that they make people think and react to them, though I cannot say exactly what those reactions are. I’ve been interviewed for pieces I’ve done and the reaction seems positive.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
EVERYTHING. Literally. It’s hard to not be inspired in todays world. So much is at our fingertips. I remember being in school and having to trudge to the library to look at books put out by artists who have been dead for 20, 30, 40, 100 years. Today, you can sit down, turn on your computer and be hit by inspiration. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not inspired by a color, or a project or a scene. It’s incredible.

5. What is your dream of success?
Happiness. Whatever that looks like to me is what I imagine success to be. Right now I am happy. I have a lot of time to myself to make things and to create and that makes me happy. In the future, that may change, but I don’t know. Being an artist is a very personal thing and to me, success has always been a very personal thing too. It’s never been about money or fame. It’s always been about my state of mind and how I feel about my work. My work has changed so much since I started making things so many years ago, and I can only guess that my idea of success will change as well.

You can learn more about Julie at her blog, Yonder. And don’t forget the rest of the Indie-Craft interviews.

My “Interview” with The Thermals

Posted in Live by SM on May 30, 2011

As mentioned before, I have a little side project over at The CoMo Collective where I cover the local music scene. I’ve tried my best to parlay that into opportunities to interview national acts. So far, I received a half-hearted reply from The Walkmen and no answer from The New Pornographers and Yo La Tengo. I won’t quit as the follow interview (done over email) demonstrates just how fun this little gig can be. Hutch Harris was super cool in taking time from his busy touring schedule to not only answer my lame questions, but he also responded to the follow-ups. I just wish I was in town to see them play…

Which brings me to the next topic. For the first two weeks of June, I will be in Spain. I’m not taking a computer. So, the posting around these parts should be scarce. I’ll try to update when possible, but I’m not promising anything. In the meantime, search through my archives. I’m sure there’s something embarrassing there you can call me out on.

Poster by Justin Nardy

The Thermals are touring and said tour makes a stop at Mojo’s this Wednesday. The tour is in support of the threesome’s latest release, last year’s Personal Life, the rare punk rock record about relationships. While the band has taken a bit of a break from the somewhat political messages typically associated with their previous work, fans are still sure to find vintage Thermals pop-punk that will induce pogoing for an entire hour-long set.

Recently, The Thermals’ Hutch Harris and I sat down (in front of our laptops) and chatted (via email) about touring, records, and dating. Take a moment and read what he had to say about these topics. Then, be sure to catch The Thermals Wednesday at Mojo’s.

TCC: For people with non-rock ‘n roll jobs, we often have to explain what we do for a living in a short, concise manner. I call this the “elevator talk.” You have to explain what it is you do in the time it takes for the elevator to reach your floor. So, how would The Thermals’ elevator talk go?

HH: we play in a rock band for a living. we make money playing shows and putting out records. (now we’ll just stand here in silence uncomfortably until we reach our floor.)

TCC: The Thermals hail from Portland. What’s that like? Do you bump into indie rock royalty (other than yourselves) every time you go to the grocery store or library? Does every Portlandian survive on craft beer-only diets?

HH: portland is the best. we’ve lived here for thirteen years now. yes, indie-rock royalty is everywhere. but you won’t find them at the library because it’s not cool. and yes, we survive on craft beer, as long as it’s organic and gluten-free. which isn’t cool either.

TCC: Is someone in the band gluten intolerant? That sucks. How do you make that work on the road?

HH: no, none of us are gluten-free. it’s just very popular in portland.

TCC: Speaking of Portland, have you seen *Portlandia*? What do you think of it?

HH: of course we’ve seen it. we played the premiere in NYC, it was awesome! we love the show – fred and carrie are both friends of ours, we’ve done a lot of shows with both of them over the years.

TCC: 2006’s The Body, the Blood, the Machine was a breakthrough for the band in a lot of ways. It received a fair amount of critical acclaim and was a pretty charged political statement in some uncertain times. How did that record and the response it received from critics and fans change or support how you felt about this band? Can you see another political album like The Body… in the band’s future?

HH: TBTBTM was the first record that kathy and i made just the two of us. we were very proud of it but had no idea what people would think of it. the response it received was amazing! it was great that so many people understood what i was trying to say, and responded so positively. that’s really the most you can hope for as an artist. most records we’ve made have been political in one way or another. i’m not sure we’ll ever make a record quite like TBTBTM. But we may try.

TCC: With the follow-up to The Body…, Now We Can See demonstrates a newfound maturity, an ability to see more clearly. From where did that perceived maturity come? Was it just a case of not wanting to do the same album over? Did anything really change? Was it related to your move from Sub Pop in any way?

HH: we are getting older and wiser, we can’t help it! we definitely did not want to make the same record twice. we wanted to make a record with no religion or politics, although both subjects did manage to sneak in there. it was totally unrelated to the label change.

TCC: Personal Life is your relationship record. (I know this because Pitchfork told me so.) What brought that on? Was there intent to make a record about love and love lost?

HH: every time i sit down to start lyrics for a record, i try not to have a theme in mind. i like to just start and see what comes out. although i did want to make a record that was more simple and down to earth than the last few records we had made.

TCC: The last time you played Columbia, Mojo’s was about half empty despite all the critical acclaim and media attention the band was getting at the time. Is it hard to get up to play for a crummy turnout on a weeknight in a midwestern town (although, I danced my ass off that night) or is it invigorating to play in such an intimate setting?

HH: i’m most concerned about how well we play. if we put on a good show, i’m satisfied. it doesn’t bother us so much if the turnout is small. although that hasn’t been a problem for a long time.

TCC: Do you remember where you ate last time in Columbia? Any other fond memories of Columbia?

HH: um, indian food i think? was this the show where we supported mates of state? you’ll have to remind me.

TCC: First, I apologize if you ate at India’s House. No one should ever have to eat there. No, you were the headliner that night. It was in Mojo’s, a weeknight, I believe. I actually almost approached you all, but you looked like you were on your way out, possibly to eat. So, I chatted up the girl selling your merch. She was studying for the GRE. Either way, your answer suggests that the stop in Columbia wasn’t all that memorable, but that’s understandable. What do you find to be the most challenging to stops in small, midwestern towns? Or is it a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city?

HH: oh yeah it was 2007. it’s coming back now. we play hundreds of shows each year so it gets hard to remember! any town can be fun, as long as the vibe is good and the people are friendly. there are few towns in the US we don’t like.

TCC: What’s next for The Thermals?

HH: we are supporting matt and kim for six weeks in june and july, then heading back to europe (we are touring here now) in august for festivals.

TCC: Finally, in reference to my earlier question concerning Personal Life‘s status as a relationship album, would you fill out the following (theoretical) dating site profile for The Thermals?

  • Relationship Status: Looking for… HOTT men and women.
  • Kids? we promise we will try to not knock you up.
  • Religious Views: nope.
  • Political Views: pro-fascism, as long as it’s done right.
  • Tattoos and/or Piercings: no cherries or birds please.
  • What do you like to do for fun? fuck you all night.
  • What would be your ideal date? yr bed.
  • If you were an animal, what would you be? kesha.

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but that was hot. So hot that I expect you to make it out to Mojo’s this Wednesday for The Thermals set. The openers are Morning Teleportation. Doors open at 8:00 and it’ll cost you twelve bucks to get in.

CoMusic Twitterview: The Walkmen

Posted in Live by SM on April 26, 2011

This past weekend, this post published over at The Collective. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek as whoever runs The Walkmen’s Twitter account was not ammused by the questions I sent them. Of course, if you read this blog regularly, you know how much I love The Walkmen. This semi-fake interview was not meant as a way to make fun of them. Instead, I want people to come out for once to see The Walkmen. The two times I’ve seen them here, barely anyone showed. I want people to check them out. I want New Pornographer fans to show up early enough to catch both bands. Whatever. Here’s the somewhat fake Twitterview. I have a real interview with a real-life band in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy…

As a citizen journalist trying to get a blog off the ground, I’ll take an interview anyway I can get it. With The Walkmen set to play The Blue Note this Friday alongside New Pornographers, I approached the band with an idea for a Twitterview. They allowed me five questions. The conversation is below…

This seems on par for The Walkmen. They have never shied away from diverse influences. It helps one understand their sound which harkens back to some truly classic rock ‘n roll (Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino), a little doo-wop (Dion), the alt canon (Ramones, Morrisey), and a little something from this decade to hold your interest (Cass McCombs). These selections should tell you all you need to know about the band’s sound.

Lisbon is a pretty great record. It made several best-of lists, including mine. Reports showed that 17 tracks were left off the final version. The Tweet above tells you all you need to know beyond that.

This is where the interview stalled. Only being allowed five questions at 140 characters a piece didn’t make it easy to come up with good interview questions. Apparently, my other questions were too lame with which to bother or were somehow offensive. I guess I’ll never know.

I did try to Twitterview The New Pornographers, but they never responded.

So, in the interest of telling you all you need to know about the show at the Blue Note, I’ll piece together a proper Twitterview using The Walkmen’s Twitter feed. Here goes nothing…

For the musicians out there, @orangebuffalo asked the following question and received the following response…

The sound is pretty unique and will definitely grab your attention. The band does some subtle things with their sonis to create an aesthetic that is rather pleasing to the ear.

I had considered to ask questions about the set lists for the tour, but couldn’t fit it in the five questions the band was allowing me. Luckily, @whiteskittLs took care of it for me…

So, expect a lot of Lisbon Friday night.

What’s in store for The Walkmen after this tour? Well…

If we’re lucky, we might get to hear these new tracks on which the band is working. And next time, I’ll just interview a band like a normal journalist/blogger.

The Walkmen play the Blue Note with The New Pornographers this Friday, April 29. Doors open at 8:00. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

Illustration by Justin Nardy. His Tumblr is here and Etsy shops here and here.

Placeholder: CoMusic Filler

Posted in Live, Uncategorized by SM on April 11, 2011

Sorry for the filler. I meant to continue and wrap my beer story, but it wasn’t meant to be. I ran out of time and this last beer has me moving a bit slow. So, I’ll repost this weekend’s CoMusic bit on the Blue Note. Stay tuned this week as I will wrap the beer story and may even do more work on that list of beliefs as a response to whatever Pizza writes. I feel bad as my numbers were soaring at the end of last week and all I have to answer that is this little piece of filler.

The Blue Note in colder times.

A one-time vaudeville porn and sci-fi theater, restored in 1980, The Blue Note is Columbia’s primary venue for national touring acts. Name the band, they have probably played the Blue Note. Now in its 31st year, the venue on North 9th Street is the place one goes to see bands such as Bright Eyes, Yo La Tengo, New Pornographers, The Walkmen, and Yeasayer…or at least that’s where you’ll be going for these (and other) shows in the near-future.

The highlight of the Blue Note’s lineup usually happens every spring and through the summer for the annual Ninth Street Summerfest where 9th is blocked off between Broadway and Walnut for bigger and better-known acts. I’ve personally seen The Flaming Lips and Wilco at these outdoor shows. Some of the outdoor gigs are even free, depending on the band set to play.

Bright Eyes is headlining the venue’s 31st anniversary show, but the Summerfest list has yet to be revealed. This weekend Explosions in the Sky hit the Note Sunday evening.

Even if you miss these gigs, you’re likely to find something that fits your schedule on the Blue Note’s site or their sister venue, Mojo’s.